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Nissan Navara pick-up review

The Nissan Navara is a pick-up truck aimed at tradesmen who appreciate its tough SUV styling, and its ability to work hard during the week and play comfortably with the family at weekends. The Navara also takes advantage of the very generous tax break for company vehicles with a one-tonne carrying capacity, and rivals other lavishly equipped ‘workhorses’ all trying to do the same thing. The Ford RangerMitsubishi L200Toyota Hilux and VW Amarokare established rivals.

Dealers offer the Navara for sale powered by a beefy four-cylinder 2.3-litre diesel engine that comes with a choice of 158bhp or 187bhp thanks to single or twin turbos. All Navara Double Cab versions are full-time 4x4s, but you can also buy the King Cab with the option of 2wd. Unlike the Double Cab which has four proper doors and a full size rear seat, the King Cab has a pair of small back-hinged rear doors, and fold down rear seats.

The Navara comes in five trim levels, starting with the Visia which is well equipped with a 5-inch TFT display screen, power steering, windows and mirrors, manual air conditioning, a six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and steering wheel controls, cruise control, stop/start, an electronic limited slip differential, forward emergency braking, and 16-inch steel wheels. Next up is the Acenta with 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome mirrors, door handles and grille, plus Nissan’s Intelligent Key system. The Acenta Plus adds 18-inch alloys, side steps, fog lamps, automatic climate control, a reversing camera and a leather steering wheel.

The Navara N-Connecta gives you the NissanConnect 2.0 sat-nav and entertainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen, DAB radio and smartphone app integration, while the top-of-the-range Tekna adds roof rails, LED headlights, leather seats with eight-way driver adjustment, rear parking sensors and a four camera surround view system.

As the King Cab is aimed more at the utility market and has fewer lifestyle aspirations, it is limited to a six speed manual gearbox and the two lower trim levels. Navara Double Cab versions get the option of a six-speed auto, and Nissan also fits an uprated multilink independent rear suspension. As a result, the Navara Double Cab is one of the best riding pick-ups around.

MPG and Running Costs 4.2/5 stars

The best Navara for fuel economy is the 2WD King-Cab with a 46.3mpg combined cycle showing, but you could throw a blanket over the whole range as even the 4×4 Double-Cab with the dCi 190 (187bhp) engine manages 44.8mpg and 167g/km of CO2. The 7-speed auto does blunt economy, although 40.9mpg and 183g/km with this gearbox fitted is hardly a disaster for a two-tonne pick-up truck.

Elsewhere, Nissan has paid particular attention to keeping costs low. All Navara models get the excellent 5-year/100,000-mile warranty that applies right across the brand’s commercial vehicle range and is fully transferable to the next owner. There’s also an generous level of safety kit, including Nissan’s autonomous emergency braking technology that helps lower insurance premiums.

An attractive feature of the new Navara is the optional hard-top for the pick-up bed. You may think it’s designed with form ahead of function – it has a pretty low roofline for starters – but it’s great from a security point of view with remote locking that’s hooked up to the central locking system. You can also secure the load bay with a (pricey) aluminium tonneau cover, and there’s a lockable plastic toolbox option, too.

Trim levels from Acenta up feature Nissan’s Intelligent Key system, while all models feature a Nissan approved alarm, anti-theft immobiliser, central locking, locking wheel nuts and a spare wheel lock.

Load Space and Practicality 4/5 stars

The choice between the Double-Cab and King-Cab models comes down to the kind of usage buyers have in store for their Navara. The King-Cab is purely a working vehicle with its less sophisticated suspension and lower specifications, but it’s £1,000 cheaper and making do with front-wheel drive knocks another £1,000 off the asking price.

By choosing the King-Cab you gain a little bit of load length with 1,750mm on offer compared to 1,537mm in the Double-Cab, but you lose the ability to take adult-sized rear-seat passengers in anything approaching comfort. The neat half-size rear suicide doors on the King-Cab open to reveal two cinema-style folding seats that you can just about squeeze an adult into. It’s more likely that the space will be used as a secure area to carry tools or other items, with the seats kept for emergencies.

That brings us to the Double-Cab that 95 per cent of UK buyers choose. Rear seat accommodation is surprisingly good for a pick-up with enough space for a six-foot adult to sit behind a six-foot driver in some comfort. The rear bench could take a third passenger in the middle, but space will be tight and there is a transmission tunnel that gets in the way of your feet.

The payload penalty for choosing the Navara Double-Cab is non-existent, with the 4×4 model rated at up to 1,059kg and the King-Cab able to carry only slightly more, at 1,074kg. The best load-carrying Navara, however, is the 2WD King-Cab model: this can cope with 1,156kg.

The load bay itself is lined with tough plastic and the tailgate feels nice and solid. The space is 67mm longer than the previous-generation Navara’s, and Nissan offers a wide range of options for buyers to tailor it to their own requirements. The C-Channel load securing system is included on higher-spec versions and brings movable tie-down points to help secure loads in the back.

Whatever can’t be accommodated in the rear of the Navara can go on a trailer, and the 3,500kg towing capacity is as good as you’ll find in the pick-up segment. This is available on all new Navara variations apart from the 158bhp two-wheel drive King Cab, which can only manage to tow 3,035kg.

Reliability and Safety 4.7/5 stars

The tough box frame chassis and 4×4 system used on the Navara are carried over from the previous-generation model, so they’re proven to stand up to tough usage. It’s a similar story with the engine – although it’s new to the Navara, the 2.3-litre diesel unit has been fitted to over 300,000 Renault and Nissan vans.

On the safety front, even base Visia models get 7 airbags, stability control and Nissan’s FEB Forward Emergency Braking tech. This system detects impending collisions and puts the brakes on to lessen the impact or prevent one happening altogether. There are also ISOFIX child seat mounting points in the rear and LED daytime running lights as standard.

The selectable all-wheel-drive system with low-range mode and electronic limited-slip differential should give the Navara more than enough off-road ability for most. As we’ve said, it’s the same set-up carried over from the old Navara, but the electronic diff, Hill descent Control and Hill Start Assist have been added to beef up its capabilities.

Rear parking sensors are fitted as standard to help avoid parking knocks, while Acenta+ variants and above get a parking camera. Where it’s fitted, the image from this is displayed on the dashboard’s 7-inch screen, but other versions have a small screen built into the rear view mirror. Top-spec Tekna models get the Around View Monitor system – a series of cameras that give a clear view all round the car. It’s particularly useful for off-roading, allowing you to check your proximity to obstacles without leaving the vehicle, but it should make the Navara almost impossible to scrape in the supermarket car park.

Driving and Performance 4.5/5 stars

The way you spec your Nissan Navara has a huge impact on how it drives. The King-Cab models use old-fashioned leaf springs at the rear, and the result is a driving experience that’s in line with the majority of UK market pick-up trucks, which use a similar set-up. The ride is unsettled, the steering vague and the body pitches and rolls into corners. The Navara King-Cab is still among the better-handling trucks we’ve tested, particularly as none of the vehicles we tried had weight in the rear to settle the ride, but the introduction of the 5-link independent suspension on the Double-Cab is transformative.

Get in the Nissan Navara Double-Cab and you can’t fail to notice the difference. Small bumps are ironed out far more effectively and the floating feeling over sudden undulations is much better suppressed. Better still, the steering is more responsive, making the truck easier to control at speed and cornering is much more composed. We need to insert a caveat here because although the Nissan Navara rides and handles very well for a pick-up truck, those used to large passenger SUVs will still notice the occasional shudder from the suspension and the weighty feel of the truck on the road. It’s no car, but if being car-like was the aim, Nissan has done a fine job. The suspension oddly works better at higher speeds, so rutted country roads tend to be dealt with fairly well at national speed limits.

The other area to give careful consideration to when specifying your Nissan Navara is the gearbox. The 6-speed manual is a bit of a letdown given the on-road polish displayed by the rest of the package. It’s notchy and has a long throw, and isn’t as nice to use as the shifter in the Mitsubishi L200 for example. On the other hand, the 7-speed automatic seems a very nice fit in the Navara. It isn’t the most responsive of autos, taking a while to drop a gear when you put your foot down, but it’s extremely smooth and suits the plush feel of the high-end Navara models. Buyers just need to ask themselves whether this justifies the price and fuel economy penalty of choosing the auto.

The engine itself is smooth and refined. On a steady motorway cruise, wind around the big door mirrors is the prominent noise as the engine only kicks out a low, background thrum. The downside is that even the twin-turbo 187bhp unit can’t fire the weighty Navara up the road with any real vigour. Flexibility is fine, with 450Nm of torque on offer in the range-topping unit and 403Nm in the 158bhp base model, but at the top end both seem a little lacking.

Cab and Interior 4.3/5 stars

The somewhat agricultural feel many pick-up trucks have on the road is often replicated in the cabin, but Nissan has gone to great lengths to make the Navara feel like a passenger car inside – and this has paid off.

To a great extent, the interior fixtures and fittings from the X-Trail passenger car seem to have been dropped into the Navara’s interior. Build quality is strong as you’d need it to be in a working vehicle, but the higher-spec models get some shiny trim finishes that do much to raise the tone. Some will feel there’s an over-reliance on piano black trim on the Tekna models, but Nissan has generally done a very good job.

Highlights include the clear information display at the centre of the instrument cluster and the NissanConnect touchscreen navigation system, which is well integrated and seems easy to use.

The cabin isn’t over endowed with storage space, but that’s often the way with pick-ups. You get a deep bin between the seats, a couple of cup holders, a very small glovebox and decent-sized door pockets, but larger items will inevitably end up slung on the Double-Cab’s rear seats.

The driving position is comfortable and special praise should go to the front seats, which Nissan says were designed with the aid of research from NASA. The bulges at either side of the bonnet are a styling device that the company claims also provide reference points, making the truck easier to place on the road. On our test drive, however, they seemed more of a hindrance than a help, blocking your view of the Navara’s extremities.

Van dimensions

Body style Height Width Length
King-Cab 1,790mm 2,075mm 5,225mm
Double-Cab 1,840mm 2,075mm 5,300mm

Load area dimensions

Body style Height Width Length Volume
King-Cab n/a 1,560mm 1,758mm n/a
Double-Cab n/a 1,560mm 1,578mm n/a

Source: AutoExpress

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